The Stress Of A Visit With The Vet
“It’s not what you eat that can be hazardous to your health — it’s what is eating you.”
Given the context, our pastor wasn’t referring to life in the Serengeti and hungry lions. Pastor Wayne was talking about stress.
For a lot of canine patients, stress in a veterinary hospital is a reality. Being placed on an exam table, then poked and prodded, is far from relaxing. Most just shed their coat profusely, but for others, high levels of anxiety can have extreme consequences.
It was a quiet afternoon at the clinic as patients came and went for routine maladies. Ear infections, limping and diarrhea seemed to be the popular concerns that day.
Suddenly, Lilyan rushed in and informed me of an emergency. Dashing out of Room 1 and then being dragged into Room 2, I wondered what was going on.
Was a patient hit by a car? Was it heat stroke?
On the exam table was Chiba, a 5-year-old Pug who was in the throes of a grand mal seizure. The staff knew exactly what to do, and as I reached for medication, Lilyan handed me a bottle that would stop the seizure activity.
A quick injection and moments later, Chiba settled down and stopped her convulsions — though Bettina, her owner, continued to shake a bit herself.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked.
Bettina replied, “It only started the moment we walked into your office. It’s always like that.”
With a raised eyebrow, I asked, “Always? You mean this has happened before?”
“Well, Doc, this is our first visit to your hospital, but at the other veterinary clinic Chiba would have a seizure the moment she walked through the door. She’s had a total of three seizures so far, and it always occurs when walking into a veterinary clinic. I thought a change of scenery might help.” Bettina frowned. “I guess not.”
“It seems that the visit to a veterinary office is a trigger for Chiba’s seizures. Let’s pre-medicate Chiba prior to coming in so that she doesn’t have an episode,” I suggested.
“While you’re at it, Doc, do you have something for me?” Bettina asked. Her shaking had stopped considerably since calming down.
Jokingly I replied, “A glass of wine might help.”
Chiba was given medication prior to the next visit and the results were encouraging.
Unfortunately, she had a seizure at the subsequent appointment, even with the medication on board.
“Doc, I’m worried about not being able to bring Chiba to the clinic for a visit.
“How will we address her health concerns? Between her ear infections and anal gland problems, she would be a mess without treatment.”
“Well, I could do a house call,” I said.
Like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders, Bettina exclaimed, “You do house calls?”
A smile and a nod sealed the deal.
From then on, Chiba received a visit in the comfort of her home. She still sheds extra fur during the exam, but no more seizures and definitely less stress.
For that matter, there was less stress for all involved.
Dr. John Kaya is director of the Windward Community College veterinary technician program and associate veterinarian for VCA University Animal Hospital.